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1 Timothy Chapter 1

1 Timothy 1:9-10 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

Problematic Translations:

Arsenokoites, which is translated as homosexual in some translations of this passage, is a very problematic word. The range of meanings is very diverse, so we are left trying to make an educated guess as to the exact meaning. Problems understanding the precise meaning of the word arsenokoites is complicated by the fact that the word is only used twice in the New Testament. We have very few records of this word being used in secular documents, so we are left guessing some about the meaning.

Ann Nyland, who translated The Source New Testament, has expertise in New Testament Greek and in ancient, secular Greek. She does not translate the Greek word arsenokoites, because she feels there is "no ready English translation." Nyland, in footnotes to her translation, states a verb form of the word appears in the Sibylline Oraclest is used in the context of extortion and murder. She says that one way a sixth century astrologer used the term is to describe those who rape women.

There are a wide range of translations of this verse. Biblical linguists see enough differences in meaning that one needs to be very cautious when applying this passage to gay people. Given the fact that one expert in ancient Greek feels there is no real English translation for one of the words that is translated as homosexual in some versions of the Bible, this passage should not be used to condemn gays or bisexuals. A few of the different translations include:

Good News Bible - It must be remembered, of course, that laws are made, not for good people, but for lawbreakers and criminals, for the godless and sinful, for those who are not religious or spiritual, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the immoral, for sexual perverts, for kidnappers, for those who lie and give false testimony or who do anything else contrary to sound doctrine.

Moffatt Bible - He must keep in mind that no law is ever made for honest people but for the lawless and the insubordinate, for the impious and the sinful, for the irreverent and the profane, for the parricides and the matricides, murders, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.

New Revised Standard Version - This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.

The context of these verses is a warning against false teachers. Verse three starts discussing those who are teaching incorrect doctrine. When we see verses about same-gender sexual activities within a context correcting of false teaching, we need to be cautious when we apply the comments to anything other than false teaching.

The second edition of Tyndale's New Bible Commentary notes that the some people believe the Greek word arsenikoites, which some Bible translations say is homosexual, might be "restricted" to male prostitutes. The Greek scholar Spiros Zodhiates indicates the word translated whoremongers in the King James Version may refer to male prostitutes. Prostitution was commonly involved in the worship of idols and pagan gods. William Barclay, in his commentary on 1 Timothy, indicates the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, had one thousand sacred female prostitutes. Male temple prostitutes were also involved in worship of pagan gods. There is a possibility this text is a condemnation of the worship of other gods.

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